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Working Group Report on Canada’s International Security and National Defence Policy

Working Group Report on Canada’s International Security and National Defence Policy

What are the principal security and defence challenges facing Canada, and how should Canada respond? CIPS asked two former senior officials, one recently retired general, and two academic security policy experts to answer these questions. Their report, based on months of deliberation and consultation, sets out important policy recommendations for the new Canadian government.

CIPS Working Group on International Security and National Defence Policy

Rob McRae (co-chair)
Former Canadian Ambassador to NATO and former Assistant Secretary to the Cabinet for Intelligence Assessment, Privy Council Office

James R. Mitchell (co-chair)
Founding partner, Sussex Circle consultancy, and former Assistant Secretary to the Cabinet, Machinery of Government

LGen (ret’d) Stuart A. Beare
Former Commander of Canadian Joint Operations Command

Stéfanie von Hlatky
Assistant Professor of Political Studies at Queen’s University and the Director of the Queen’s Centre for International and Defence Policy

Elinor Sloan
Professor of International Relations at Carleton University

Read the full report here

Executive Summary

This paper constitutes advice to the Prime Minister in the area of international security and defence policy. It is based on our understanding of a rapidly changing global environment and our views of how Canadian interests can best be advanced and protected. We offer what we believe are affordable ways to do this. If there is a single theme underpinning this paper it is that Canada can, and should, be doing more in the world.

The world today presents complex challenges ranging from the migration crisis in Europe to the intractable conflict in Syria. However, there are longer-term problems and opportunities to be addressed as well. A new Prime Minister must deal with both the short and the longer term. Early in the new mandate, the Prime Minister will be expected to attend no less than four summits, including the UN meeting of heads of government on climate change in Paris in November. On all of these occasions, he will need to present a credible Canadian position that may have to go well beyond the electoral platform of his party.

The advice that follows, therefore, is intended to serve a number of different purposes: in some cases, it speaks to an immediate policy requirement; in others, there is an opportunity following the election to stake out broader government intentions or commitments. In still other cases, policy must await further analysis of the fiscal situation and must be balanced against other priorities. But some decisions must be taken now. On this basis, our advice to the Prime Minister with respect to international security and defence policy can be distilled into seven key recommendations:

1. Take immediate steps to restore Canada’s standing at the United Nations and within the UN system.

2. Bring forward a credible position on climate change at the Paris Summit.

3. Define and commit to a balanced counter-terrorism strategy that addresses both prevention and threats ranging from the Middle East to those in our own country.

4. Engage Canadians in a dialogue about Canada’s foreign and defence policy through a ‘White Paper’ for delivery within six months. This would include articulating a comprehensive policy and strategy for Canada’s relations with the United States, including continental defence.

5. Set out a vision for the humanitarian dimension of Canada’s foreign policy and, in the short term, develop an action plan for dealing with Syrian refugees, countering the threat from ISIS, and building regional capacity.

6. Commit to adequately resourcing the government’s international policy commitments, and specifically to revitalizing Canada’s diplomatic presence and capacity in support of the government’s security, trade and development objectives, and aligning resources in the defence envelope with Canada’s security commitments.

7. Organize and equip the centre of government to properly support the government’s international security and defence responsibilities and objectives.

Read the full report here

The publication of this report was supported by a grant from the Defence Engagement Program of the Department of National Defence. The authors are solely responsible for the report’s content.


Canada and the World Policy Reports

New Directions for Canadian International Policy

In Fall 2014, CIPS convened four working groups of academics and policy practitioners to explore new thinking and policy options in four areas: International Security and Defence, International Development, International Trade and Commerce, and International Human Rights. The working groups grew out of the discussion at the May 2014 Ottawa Forum which focused on rethinking Canada’s international strategy. The working groups met, consulted, deliberated and drafted their reports and recommendations over the past year. CIPS is releasing the working group papers as part of its ongoing effort to promote evidence-based discussion of international policy issues in Canada.

Canada’s International Security and Defence Policy
Co-Chairs: Rob McRae and James R. Mitchell

Towards 2030: Building Canada’s Engagement with Global Sustainable Development
Co-Chairs: Margaret Biggs and John McArthur

No Time for Complacency: A 21st Century Trade Strategy for Canada
Co-Chairs: Ailish Campbell and Elaine Feldman

Human Rights in Canadian Foreign Policy: New Departures
Co-Chairs: John Packer and David Petrasek

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